Ernest Hemingway once said, “Wine and friends are a great blend.” This philosophy is at the heart of European Waterways’ dedication to offering its guests some of the most unique and exclusive wine excursions in the industry. Cruising with like-minded travellers, guests learn about the history and winemaking traditions, as well as the process, from grape growing to bottling. Excursions can feature tastings at family-owned vineyards and private tours of historic chateaux. Cruises also include gastronomic meals paired with the finest regional wines, sometimes from the very vineyard visited, where on board hosts explain the significance of each vintage and guide guests on how to best enjoy them.
“Wine and the company of fellow passengers are integral parts of the luxury hotel barge cruising experience,” said Derek Banks, Managing Director of European Waterways. “Whether serious connoisseurs or just curious about wines, our guests are always sure to stay in good ‘spirit’ throughout the six-night, all-inclusive cruise.” Banks noted: “Most European Waterways hotel barges can also be chartered for a more immersive Wine Appreciation Cruise.”
A Fine Wine Romance
Among European Waterways’ popular hotel barges is the eight-passenger Finesse, which cruises Southern Burgundy. Guests aboard Finesse visit Maison Champy – a winery located in the heart of Beaune, the Capital of Burgundy Wines. A UNESCO historical monument, the winery was designed by the famed architect, Gustave Eiffel, and is one of the oldest in France. Here guests will enjoy a guided tour of the vineyards, a tasting hosted by a wine expert, and a gourmet lunch at CUVE 17 – a unique dining experience within one of the winery’s huge historic wooden wine vats, known as ‘cuves’, where a four-course seasonal lunch with wine parings of Premier and Grand Crus is served.
Guests aboard European Waterways’ eight-passenger Renaissance, cruising France’s oldest canal, the Canal de Briare, enjoy a tour and private wine tasting at the Sancerre winery of La Perrière. The winery is famous for its vast natural cave, dating back millions of years, where its distillation vats are housed. Renaissance cruises also include excursions to the studio home of artist Rosa Bonheur, the most celebrated female artist of the 19th century, with a private lunch in her salon, as well as a cooking demonstration at the privately-owned Château de La Bussière, a former fortified castle dating back to the 12th century.
Guests on the 12-passenger Panache visit the boutique Grand Cru champagne house of Frerejean Frères, located in the middle of the Champagne countryside. The tour is followed by lunch in the family domaine, with ingredients harvested from its gardens. Champagne cruise passengers savor more bubbles with tastings at the world-renowned house of Moët & Chandon and the Maison Pannier winery with its labyrinth of medieval underground cellars.